Sabino’s offseason travels & training pays dividends with unbeaten region record

The fruits of Sabino’s labor — and enrichment experiences training in multiple states — has the Sabercats atop the 3A South with a 4-0 record following their 68-57 win over visiting Palo Verde on Thursday night.

Summers are not for relaxing for Obie Tann’s team at Sabino, which is 10-7 overall. Instead, a majority of the team travels to various states yearly as part of Derek Hersha’s Apex Athletix club team.

“Some people in club basketball try to do it for the money; this is not the case — Derek Hersha does it for the kids,” Tann said. “It helps these guys a lot to travel and gain valuable experiences.”

The yearly regimen is paying dividends for senior leaders Luke Pyle and Travis Reynolds and junior captain Weston Haebig.

Sabino’s Luke Pyle (left) and Travis Reynolds combined for 29 of the Sabercats’ 40 points in the second half against Palo Verde (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Sabino also did not shy away from top competition early this season playing in the Paradise Honors Panthers Hoop Classic in Surprise and the Central Arizona Holiday Classic at Casa Grande. The Sabercats went 3-5 in those tournaments playing against some of the top teams in the state including Trivium Prep, Highland Prep and Coolidge (which is coached by former Buena coach Dave Glasgow).

“Coach Tann and the coaches are a lot different than other high school coaches,” said Reynolds, a senior forward who had a game-high 29 points against Palo Verde. “We travel. We do things as a team. For other high schools, they go through the season, maybe do a fall league, and they’re done. We go out. We train. We go see different states. We play at other places.

“We do everything.”

Haebig, one of Southern Arizona’s top scorers at 24.4 points a game, did not have his customary high-scoring performance against Palo Verde, a talented team under coach Anthony Smith that is 10-7 and 2-2.

Haebig finished with eight points but he facilitated Sabino’s offense along with senior point guard TaJohn Cook and that led to plenty of scoring opportunities for Pyle and Reynolds, both of whom kept the Titans’ defense off-balance with their strong outside-inside presence.

After Sabino trailed 33-28 at halftime, following a dominant 17-point performance by forward Anthony Valenzuela, Reynolds and Pyle carried the Sabercats’ scoring load.

They scored all of Sabino’s points in the second half until 2:35 remained in the game when Korbin Jessup made two free throws to give the Sabercats a 59-49 lead.

Reynolds had 20 points and Pyle had nine — off three 3-pointers — to that point. The duo outscored Palo Verde 29-16 in the second half until Jessup’s free throws.

“They couldn’t stop us,” said Pyle, who finished with 18 points on six 3-pointers. “We spread out the court to much and then Travis works down low. …. Coach (at halftime) just told us to calm down and he was mostly talking to TaJohn, our point guard, and he came through, too. He calmed the game down.”

The 3A South is a competitive league with Sabino and Pusch Ridge tied for the lead with 4-0 records. Palo Verde and Tanque Verde (3-3) are at .500 in league play with winning overall records (the Hawks are 8-7).

Sabino plays Pusch Ridge (11-5 overall) twice in a week coming up — at home on Feb. 3 and on the Lions’ home court Feb. 10. The Sabercats are presently on a five-game winning streak and the Lions have won four in a row.

Unfortunately for these teams, none are ranked in the top 20 of 3A teams in that state in the AIA’s power-rating rankings. Pusch Ridge is No. 21, Sabino is No. 26 and Palo Verde No. 30. Tanque Verde is No. 33.

Sabino coach Obie Tann gives his team direction (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

When asked about Sabino’s unbeaten record in the 3A South, Tann said, “It’s expected.”

“We try to build a tradition here,” added Tann, who will coach against his former school, Catalina, on Friday night on the road. “We should always be the top team in the south, especially in 3A. To be honest, we’re undefeated in 3A, (but) the challenge is we play teams that are 5A and 6A and we played some of the teams without our full team this year.

“It hurt us in the overall scheme of things, but when we’re a full team, we look amazing.”

Another test approaching is hosting the state’s No. 1 5A team — Buena — on Jan. 28. Games like that and the upcoming two games against Pusch Ridge should elevate Sabino’s ranking.

Anthony Smith has coached Palo Verde to a winning overall record in his first season as Palo Verde’s coach (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top